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1.  Newborn literacy program effective in increasing maternal engagement in literacy activities: an observational cohort study 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:100.
Literacy is important for success in school and in adulthood. Book-gift programs at birth exist to help develop these foundations early on. The effectiveness of the Read to Me! Nova Scotia Family Literacy Program (a program where books and literacy materials are given to families in hospital when their baby is born) on the duration and frequency with which mothers engage in reading and other literacy based activities with their newborns was assessed.
An observational cohort study design was used. Mothers of babies who received the Read to Me! package in Nova Scotia born between January-August 2006 made up the intervention group (N = 1051). Mothers of babies born in Prince Edward Island between December 2006 and March 2008 made up the control group (N = 279) and did not receive any literacy package when their baby was born. A phone questionnaire was conducted consisting of questions regarding frequency and duration of maternal engagement in language and literacy-based activities with their infants. These activities included reading, singing, talking, listening to CDs and the radio and watching TV. Babies were aged 0–10 months at the time of the interview.
Mothers who received the Read to Me! literacy package spent significantly more time reading to their babies, 17.9 ± 17.6 min/day compared to controls 12.6 ± 10.7 min/day, (p < 0.0001).
Read to Me! may be an inexpensive, easy to administer and effective intervention which results in increased shared reading of mothers and their newborns.
PMCID: PMC3426472  PMID: 22799492
2.  The role of peer communication in the socialization of adolescents' pain experiences: a qualitative investigation 
BMC Pediatrics  2008;8:2.
Recurrent pain is a common complaint among adolescents. Children learn to resolve or cope with pain largely through family dynamics, particularly maternal influences. By adolescence, young people possess an array of pain behaviors, the culmination of multiple opportunities for modeling and reinforcement of attitudes and beliefs about pain. Adolescence is a time of increased autonomy characterized by, among other complex factors, significant increases in peer influence. Although peers are influential in health-risk behavior, little is known how peers impact adolescents' pain experience. The present study explored the role of peers in adolescents' attitudes toward pain, pain behaviors and over-the-counter analgesics.
Sixty-minute focus groups were conducted with a sample 24 junior high school students from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada (11 male: mean age = 13.45 years, range = 12–15 years; 13 female: mean age = 13.31 years, range = 12–15 years). Participants were randomly assigned to one of five same-gender focus groups designed to explore a wide breadth and depth of information. Sessions were run until theoretical data saturation. Textual data, from transcribed audiotapes, were analyzed with the constant comparative method.
Peer influences were apparent in how adolescents communicate about pain and how those communications effect pain expression. Overt pain responses to injury were primarily contextual and depended on perceived threats to peer-time and pain severity. Adolescents were intolerant of peers' pain behaviors when the cause was perceived as not severe. These attitudes impacted how adolescents responded to their own pain; males were careful not to express embarrassing pain in front of peers, females felt no restrictions on pain talk or pain expression. Evidence for peer influence on attitudes toward OTC analgesics was apparent in perceptions of over-use and ease of access. Findings are discussed within the context of social information-processing and gender role expectations.
Little research has addressed how young people experience pain within the context of the psychosocial influences that dominate during adolescence. The findings provide some insight into the role of peer influences via verbal and non-verbal communication, in adolescents' pain experience. This exploratory study is a necessary first step in understanding the socialization of adolescents' pain experiences.
PMCID: PMC2254410  PMID: 18190716
3.  Dalhousie dyspnea scales: construct and content validity of pictorial scales for measuring dyspnea 
BMC Pediatrics  2005;5:33.
Because there are no child-friendly, validated, self-report measures of dyspnea or breathlessness, we developed, and provided initial validation, of three, 7-item, pictorial scales depicting three sub-constructs of dyspnea: throat closing, chest tightness, and effort.
We developed the three scales (Throat closing, Chest tightness, and Effort) using focus groups with 25 children. Subsequently, seventy-nine children (29 children with asthma, 30 children with cystic fibrosis. and 20 children who were healthy) aged 6 to 18 years rated each picture in each series, using a 0–10 scale. In addition, each child placed each picture in each series on a 100-cm long Visual Analogue Scale, with the anchors "not at all" and "a lot".
Children aged eight years or older rated the scales in the correct order 75% to 98% correctly, but children less than 8 years of age performed unreliably. The mean distance between each consecutive item in each pictorial scale was equal.
Preliminary results revealed that children aged 8 to 18 years understood and used these three scales measuring throat closing, chest tightness, and effort appropriately. The scales appear to accurately measure the construct of breathlessness, at least at an interval level. Additional research applying these scales to clinical situations is warranted.
PMCID: PMC1208906  PMID: 16131402
4.  Healthcare professionals' perceptions of pain in infants at risk for neurological impairment 
BMC Pediatrics  2004;4:23.
To determine whether healthcare professionals perceive the pain of infants differently due to their understanding of that infant's level of risk for neurological impairment.
Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU's) at two tertiary pediatric centers. Ninety-five healthcare professionals who practice in the NICU (50 nurses, 19 physicians, 17 respiratory therapists, 9 other) participated. They rated the pain (0–10 scale and 0–6 Faces Pain Scale), distress (0–10), effectiveness of cuddling to relieve pain (0–10) and time to calm without intervention (seconds) for nine video clips of neonates receiving a heel stick. Prior to each rating, they were provided with descriptions that suggested the infant had mild, moderate or severe risk for neurological impairment. Ratings were examined as a function of the level of risk described.
Professionals' ratings of pain, distress, and time to calm did not vary significantly with level of risk, but ratings of the effectiveness of cuddling were significantly lower as risk increased [F (2,93) = 4.4, p = .02]. No differences in ratings were found due to participants' age, gender or site of study. Physicians' ratings were significantly lower than nurses' across ratings.
Professionals provided with visual information regarding an infants' pain during a procedure did not display the belief that infants' level of risk for neurological impairment affected their pain experience. Professionals' estimates of the effectiveness of a nonpharmacological intervention did differ due to level of risk.
PMCID: PMC534106  PMID: 15541179

Results 1-4 (4)